I returned home after a day packed with tiring activities. I quickly freshened up and changed into nice comfortable clothes. As I sat sprawled comfortably in the recliner, sipping a cup of steaming hot coffee and reading the newspaper, my eyes fell upon the photo album lying under the stack of books on the table. It seemed to be extending an invitation to me to turn the pages and relive the moments of the years gone by!
I picked up the album. I carefully dusted the cover and slowly and gently, ran my fingers over the letters engraved in a color of rich gold on the dark brown background of the cover. That very act brought a wave of overwhelming memories.
It was the summer of 2010. We were a close knit group of five friends. Our lives were so entwined with each other that we had never had the time to think about separation. It was amazing how five people from different places, different cultures and different beliefs; and with radically different personalities had become the best of friends. If you asked me how we ended up together, I am not quite sure if I would be able to answer the question. The process was too gradual. We were a bunch of MBBS students. It was the first day of college and as we sat around the cadaver with confusion raging in our minds, we got talking to each other. Thus started the journey of friendship. We were all in one unit and that got us talking more frequently. Getting to know each other was fun since each one was curious to know more about the others. Time flew by and with every passing day, stronger grew the bond of friendship. We would laugh together, sit and chat for hours, study together, fight and make up, play pranks and make a fool of ourselves… all of us admitted having a streak of madness… if one was loud and bold, then the other was shy and calm. If one could not stand non-sense, the other would be a complete package of fun and entertainment, ready with her jokes which were tagged as pathetic jokes. If one was a nerd, the other was repulsed by the sight of books. If one was tolerant and quiet, the other could never take crap from anyone. Such a contrast of personalities and yet, we did co-exist in our own happy world. We got along like a house on fire and left everyone wondering how we could put up with each other. The story does not end here. We had our own share of fights as well, but we never slept with any misunderstanding in our hearts. Five years is a long time… and more than enough to know a person. Our MBBS course was going to come to an end and now, we were awaiting the moment when we would step out into the world as responsible doctors. But the excitement seemed to have waned, leaving behind a sense of gloominess- gloominess that had set in with the realization that the five people who had stuck by each other through thick and thin for five long years now had to bid farewell to each other, may be to never cross each other’s path again. Our hearts were sore and our eyes sad. As a tribute to our beautiful friendship, we all decided to make photo albums and put together the best of our memories. Each of us set to work and in no time, all of us had treasured the moments captured long back, in our albums. Finally, that dreaded moment arrived when we had to say goodbye and move on to start a new life. Tears were shed, promises were made to stay in touch forever but somewhere deep inside, each of us knew that this would probably be the last time we were all together. No one knew when, if ever, we would come across each other. After all, life is too short and our profession demanded our time and dedication way too much to leave time for anything else.
It’s been five years since we all went our separate ways. Once in a while, we do talk and discuss our life. But it’s never the same as before.
I took a deep breath and opened the album. It felt like I had unleashed the memories that were bottled up in some hidden corner of my heart. The first page showed a picture of the five of us in our lab-coats, posing for the camera while waiting for the batch photograph to be taken. Then followed some random clicks, some from the Fresher’s Party, some funny moments in the hostel rooms… some reminded me of the stressful exam days when coffee was our best friend that helped us stay awake and study for the next day’s paper. Some were pictures taken when we were having sleep-overs after the end of our very first university examinations. Some were photos taken during outings or postings, some were of the Fresher’s party that we attended as seniors decked up to look the best. Some were photos that were taken when we were hogging without a care in the world. Some others were a reminder of the craziness that we indulged in almost everyday. From mock ramp-walks to dancing and singing just for fun, each was a moment captured to be treasured forever. Sometimes, one of us would get annoyed with the number of pictures being clicked. But somewhere down the line, we knew we were building a treasure trove of memories that would make us laugh and cry at the same time.
The seconds ticked by, minutes became hours and I sat there on my recliner lost in the bitter-sweet memories of the years gone-by, made beautiful by the presence of four very special people of my life… My very own gang of girls, as I fondly used to call them. Each photograph spoke volumes without uttering a single word. Come to think of it, every photograph had a story to tell… As I sat down recounting those stories, with the hint of a smile playing on my lips and my eyes glistening with tears which were threatening to fall down any second, my reverie was broken by the shrill ringing of the telephone. I got up unwillingly, sad to be yanked back into reality from my world of memories. Receiving the call was not that bad an idea. Rather I was glad to have picked up the call. The voice at the other end had just informed me that we were having a batch reunion party. Could it get any better? I was not really sure if my friends would turn up for the reunion party but isn’t hope and positive thinking enough to fuel your actions! Life can be unpredictable but not too unfair. Good times come and go but memories always stay with us. It is these memories that teach us a lot in life. And true friends always stay with us; if not in person, then through memories.